Orville Gibson begins selling his handmade instruments from his modest flat in Kalamazoo, Mich. The mandolin was very popular, emigrating from Europe as a bowl back, flat top, eight paired strings instrument tuned like the violin. He felt that by carving a mandolin in the same design philosophy as the violin, it would make a better-sounding and easier-to-hold instrument. Orville also began carving guitars with arched tops and backs, beginning a revolution in stringed instrument design.
The Gibson Guitar-Mandolin Manufacturing Company was formed when a group of businessmen partnered with Orville to begin manufacturing and selling Orville Gibson's instruments on a nationwide scale.
Lloyd Loar, world-renowned
mandolinist, violist, and musical saw artist, works at Gibson as engineer and luthier. Loar perfected Orville Gibson's carved mandolin and guitar designs by adding F-holes to instruments other than the violin. Lloyd Loar A5 and F5 mandolins, and L5 archtop guitars, remain among the most significant, and sought after guitars of all time.
Gibson invents the Adjustable Truss Rod, a major development in the effort to create a slimmer and more comfortable neck.
Lloyd Loar experiments with adding electronic pickups to stringed instruments. He leaves Gibson when little enthusiasm for "electronic instruments" is offered, and starts the commercially unsuccessful Vivi Tone company.
Gibson offers the ES-150 (Electric Spanish), arch top guitar, the first commercially successful electric guitar. Adopted by Charlie Christian, the ES-150 allows him to play single notes and be heard on jazz gigs. The guitar now sees equal time with other lead instruments, and is no longer relegated to being just a rhythm instrument.
The first "Super Jumbo" guitar design is unveiled featuring a 16-7/8" body width. Originally built for Western singing star Ray Whitley and soon nicknamed "The King of the Flattops," the SJ-200 remains one of Gibson's most-played acoustic guitars. The number "200" referred to the price in 1937, equal to about $3,300 today.
Hellen Diller performs with her Gibson Advanced Jumbo, on WLW TV in Cincinnati. The first time in history that a guitar has been seen on television.
Development of the original American artform, bluegrass, whose roots music can be traced to Celtic, Scottish, southern blues, and Appalachian roots, which began to come together in the late 1920s in the Monroe Brothers band, is completed when
Earl Scruggs adds his distinctive three-fingered banjo picking style.
Les Paul proposes his "Log" guitar to Gibson. Built by Les at Epiphone in New York City, the Log attempted to reduce feedback by using a 4" by 4" pine block as the center piece of the body, thereby surrounding the pickups Les had crafted out of items like old phonograph parts. Gibson had no interest.
Originally planned to be the Gibson "Ranger," Gibson launches its first effort at building a solid body electric guitar, ultimately named the "Les Paul" after revisiting electric guitar designs with Les. Gibson also launches the CF-100 Cutaway Acoustic Electric guitar; another first.
Gibson launches the Les Paul Custom, an all-black guitar with extra binding, pearl block inlays, a fully adjustable bridge and gold hardware alternative to the gold-finished Les Paul. Since most jazz guitarists played Gibson, the design was intended to appeal to performers who often wore tuxedos to gigs.
Gibson replaces the "Wrap" tailpiece/bridge with the Gibson Tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece system on the Les Paul. Seth Lover and staff invent the Gibson Humbucker pickup, designed to cancel the noise associated with single-coil pickups.
Gibson buys the assets of Epiphone, Gibson's greatest pre-World War II competitor. Gibson begins offering Gibson Humbucking pickups on most electric models, replacing Gibson P-90 single-coil pickups, which are still offered and revered today.
Gibson introduces the Futura/Explorer, Flying V, and Moderne designs. After hiring top design talent from the Detroit automobile industry to design a more futuristic guitar, the few hundred Explorers and Flying V guitars manufactured in 1957 and 1958, remain in stock at Gibson until they finally sell through in the early 1960s.
The Les Paul Standard neck is thinned slightly, creating the Holy Grail of electric guitars for players and collectors.
The 1961 Les Paul features an entirely new body design. All mahogany with no carved maple top, it also featured two fairly extreme cutaways. Les Paul's name was removed from the guitar when Les objected to it, and it was renamed the SG (Solid Guitar).
The Les Paul Deluxe with its Gibson Mini Humbuckers is introduced. It becomes an in-demand axe when rock-and-rollers hear what the new pickups sound like through the Marshall amplifiers from Britain.
Gibson is purchased while on the brink of bankruptcy by partners Henry Juszkiewicz, Dave Berryman, and another partner. Gibson creates "Gibson Historic," a division that was charged with recreating historic Gibson guitars as closely as possible.
Gibson begins manufacturing Gibson acoustic guitars in Bozeman, Mont. Until then, all Gibson instruments had been manufactured under one roof.
Gibson opens the Gibson Memphis Factory at the end of Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. For the first time, Gibson has all of the "ES" models built under one roof.
Gibson unveils the HD.6X-Pro, the world's first guitar designed with vast electronics to work within the context of home and professional studio recording.
After refinements, Gibson brings the Robotic tuning system, now labeled the Min-ETune System, into the mainstream.